Apologies to Churchill and King George VI
My friends, when the death of the truck occurred in February there struck a deep and solemn note in our lives. It stilled the diesel clatter in our yard, and the screaming belts that made countless human beings pause and look around them. A new sense of values for the time being took possession of us, and a Ford SUV presented itself to us at the same moment in its serenity and its sorrow, in its splendor and in its expense, in its fortitude, and in our suffering.
The truck was greatly loved by all our family. It was respected as a vehicle and a Puller of Trailers far beyond the many roads over which it drove. The simple dignity of its life, its manly virtues, its sense of duty–alike as ruler and servant of the vast highways and passengers for which it bore responsibility–its gay growl and happy rumble, its example as the truck of the fleet, its courage on pavement or off–all these were aspects of its character which won the glint of admiration, now here, now there, from the innumerable eyes whose gaze fell upon the GMC Sierra 2500.
We thought of it as naval lieutenant in the towing of the boat. We thought of it as head cowboy when, calmly, without ambition or want of self-confidence, it trailered our beloved horses up and down the west coast of America. We thought of it, so faithful in daily commutes to Redmond, and later, to a commuter train station parking lot in Westchester, New York, so Large when parallel parked on a city street, but responsive during stop-and-go traffic, and yet able to stop when necessary, so uplifted above the clatter of ordinary traffic, yet so attentive to the driver, so able to drive over a curb, or pothole. All this we saw and admired, its conduct on the roads of America may be a model and a guide to heavy duty pickups throughout the world to-day, and also in future generations.
Through the last few months of the truck’s life, with the squeaky belts, rust, iffy AC and mice living in the engine it endured–its life secretly hanging by a thread from day to day, and it was all the time cheerful and undaunted, stricken in body, but quite undisturbed and even unaffected in spirit. This has made a profound and enduring impression, and should be a help to us all.
It was sustained not only by its natural buoyancy but by the sincerity of its American make. During these last years, landscapers and contractors spoke to us in admiration of it, making informal offers if we ever intended to part. Once, the Bacon Provider was asked (in Spanish) if he could haul some horses from a horse show. In the end, death came as a result of putting me in a dangerous situation, instead of after a happy day of sunshine and sport.
In this period of mourning and meditation, amid our cares and toils, we may draw comfort for tonight and strength for the future from its bearing and fortitude. There was another tie between King George and his people. It was not only the sorrow and affliction that they shared. Dear to the hearts and homes of its six seats is the joy and pride of a united family. Only once were we pulled over for an unbuckled seat belt, and once for speeding. No family in these tumultuous times was happier or loved one another more than our Family Loaded up in the truck, heading for a weekend adventure.
No vehicle got more maintenance than the truck did. The Bacon Provider made certain that he changed the oil, check the tires, and had the brakes serviced.
Let me tell you another story. When we had our Seattle house painted, the painter struck one side of our truck with his, and he took a few hundred dollars off the price he charged us. We never did get around to fixing the dent. It seemed to be a revealing trait by which we could identify it in a crowded lot of other pickups.
There is no doubt that having a truck is a handy thing, In the present generation it has made possible the acquiring of barbecues, and tools, lumber, and plants. It connected us to our friends and neighbors who needed to take a load of household goods to Goodwill. We were offered money for it when we left Seattle, but we felt it was necessary for getting our pets to New York. It was always cheap to fix, and the last repair was under $300. The truck had become a mysterious link, indeed, I may say, a magical link, which united our loosely bound but strongly interwoven
For fifteen years our GMC Duramax Sierra 2500 was our truck. Never at any moment in all perplexities in Seattle or New York, city or suburb, did it fail in its duties. Well does it deserve a farewell salute.
It is at this time also that our compassion and sympathy go out to the Bacon Provider, who used it for years as his daily driver. Their partnership was a love match with no idea of regal pomp or splendor. Indeed, there seemed to be between them the charming mismatch of a Medium Cheese Executive and a Workman’s vehicle.
May I say–speaking with all freedom-that our hearts go out to–night to that valiant Brand, GMC, with the blood of America in its veins, that sustained us through toils and problems. May they be granted the wisdom to design a full-size SUV capable of pulling a large two-horse trailer sometime in the near future.
Now I must leave the treasures of the past and turn to the future. Famous have been the reigns of our vehicles. A purple Chrysler Town & Country Mini-van, and then a gold. A Volvo wagon the Graduate still drives. Nagymama’s Porsche. Some of the greatest periods in our history have unfolded under their sceptre.
Now that we have purchased a Ford Expedition Max, our thoughts are carried back nearly 15 years to the magnificent vehicle, presiding over the deck of a ferry to the San Juans, embodying and inspiring the grandeur and genius of the Turn of the 20th century. We are required to embark on new adventures. And, because we have more room, we can take all the dogs.
In fact, we have already driven it to the Adirondacks and back.
I, whose young parenthood was passed in the august, unchallenged, and tranquil glories of Seattle at the turn of the millennium, may well feel a thrill in invoking once more
“OMFG we bought an SUV!”